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Ripple publishes proposal for federated sidechains to keep main ledger lean

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Ripple’s developers have been engaging with feedback and suggestions that they expand the XRP Ledger, or XRPL, to integrate functionalities such as smart contracts. The latter have become a major feature of the booming decentralized finance space, but Ripple’s creators claim that a different solution is better for the payments-focused XRPL.

This solution comes in the form of what they term “federated sidechains” i.e. parallel ledgers that can support developers’ experimentation and specialized interests, whether for DeFi or other use cases. Using sidechains can leave the main XRPL streamlined and efficient while expanding the functionality of the wider XRP ecosystem by offering interoperability for native smart contracts and other features.

To facilitate this interoperability, Ripple’s creators are proposing a piece of “federator” software, connected on one end to the XRPL ainnet, and on the other, to one or more sidechains. Each of these function as their own blockchain but they use XRP as their main asset; moreover, the federation system supports the transfer of XRP and issues tokens between them and the main ledger.

Validators who operate at least one sidechain will be eligible to run the federator software. To integrate this new software, Ripple says it only needs to make “two trivial changes” to the operation of the XRPL network. New features on the XRPL server software will allow it to operate in a side chain but these features will not be enabled on the mainnet itself. Further outlining the federated system, Ripple chief technology officer David Schwartz writes:

“Each sidechain would have a ‘trust’ account on the XRPL Mainnet. This account can hold assets on the XRPL on behalf of users of the sidechain. The account would use a multisign or threshold key with the signers being the validators of the sidechain. Each sidechain validator operator registers a signing key that signs transactions on XRPL; thus, the validators of the sidechain can collectively create transactions to manage the sidechain’s Mainnet account.”

Each sidechain can choose to either use XRP as its native assets or have its own, new native asset. In the former case, the side chain’s account on the mainnet will contain its total XRP holdings in trust for use on the sidechain. In the latter, the sidechain’s mainnet account can be used to issue the new, native asset on the XRPL Mainnet.

Schwartz said that the advantages of the federated system are its low-risk approach, capacity for horizontal scaling, simple support for new blockchain experimentations and a long-term vision that can accommodate an evolving toolset and ongoing feedback on new sidechain developments.

As previously reported, sidechains have become a popular approach for blockchain developers to try out new solutions to resolving scaling issues and integrate new functionalities into established blockchain ecosystems like Ethereum.



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If the peer review system is broken, what the hell is the point of Cardano’s reliance on it?

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In a recent interview with Lex Fridman, Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano and co-founder of Ethereum offered his views on Bitcoin. The 33-year-old was less than complimentary, calling it “slow” and in desperate need of an upgrade. Hoskinson also took issue with the recent Bitcoin conference in Miami, comparing the whole thing to a ridiculous religious movement.

“I can’t for the life of me understand, what the hell is the point of Bitcoin?” asked Hoskinson.

But while Bitcoin has proven itself an adaptable blockchain with a decade of history, many within the crypto industry have significant questions about the “point” of Hoskinson’s own project, Cardano.

A week before this interview aired, Vitalik Buterin sat down with Fridman for a lively discussion. The Russian-Canadian programmer was asked about Cardano, and whether or not he thought Hoskinson’s project had a future. Buterin criticized Cardano’s reliance on the peer review system. Instead of focusing on academic proofs, Buterin favors a more heuristic approach. This was a sly dig, a super-geek mic drop.

Related: Bitcoin is ‘own worst enemy’ and will lose to Ethereum: Charles Hoskinson

For those unfamiliar with Cardano, the idea of peer review is very much a leitmotif of the budding proof-of-stake blockchain platform. This, we’re told, has investors excited. And so it should, in an ideal world. Peer-review is the principal metric by which scholarly legitimacy is measured. For progress, the evaluative process is invaluable.

With Cardano, it has been suggested that the term ‘peer review’ is little more than a clever marketing ploy, an ingenious way of giving the proof-of-stake blockchain platform an air of superiority. Yet Hoskinson is a staunch advocate of peer review and fiercely defensive of any criticisms that come its way. He appears to be fully invested in academic proofs. But is this a smart investment?

When one actually examines the state of today’s peer-review system, the answer appears to be no. After all, the peer review system, we’re told, is positively “toxic.”

Last year, David Rosentahl, a highly respected British-American scientist, wrote an article titled Breaking: Peer Review is Broken. As Rosentahl argues, peer review has been in a ruinous state for well “over a decade,” with cases of fraud occurring on a regular basis.

As Science magazine warned back in 2018, “the number of articles retracted by journals” has “increased 10-fold during the previous 10 years,” with fraud accounting “for some 60% of those retractions.” Three years on, things don’t appear to be getting any better. If anything, they are getting worse.

Across the board, from math to social sciences, the peer review system continues to be plagued by biases and tribalism.

John Baumgardner, Ph.D., asks the following, “Are there circumstances in which the scientific method ought to work, but for which the method does not provide ‘an accurate representation of the world’ — that is, a correct description of the way things really are?” Unfortunately, Baurngardner concludes, “the answer is yes.” To paraphrase Freemason Dyson, science is more mystery than truth.

What the hell is the point of Cardano?

If Bitcoin is nothing but an overzealous religious movement, what is Cardano? Fridman put this question to Hoskinson, who then proceeded to speak for 9 straight minutes outlining the ways in which Cardano gives “digital identities” to people in developing countries.

Others, however, see Hoskinon’s brainchild as something far less noble. According to Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz, Cardano is a “cult,” and a “weird” one at that. By default, this would make Hoskinson a cult leader.

Whatever the pros and cons of the technology that underpins the Cardano blockchain, and whatever Hoskinson’s loyal followers may see that’s worth investing in, the concern is that the cult of science is very real — and that an overreliance on the peer review process could prove to be highly problematic.

The irony of Hoskinson’s argument is that while Satoshi Nakamoto may not have jumped through peer review hoops to promulgate his white paper, the market itself has already passed judgement on Bitcoin. If peer review is “the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work” then Bitcoin has been reviewed positively for a decade by some of the most talented developers in the world.

Certainly it has its critics. Certainly it has its flaws. But exposure to the real world forged Bitcoin’s resilience. And whether Cardano will survive in the heat of real world usage is still a matter for some debate — as tech historians love to remind us, Betamax technology was superior to VHS, too.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and cultural commentator. His work has been published by the likes of Bitcoin Magazine, The New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, and National Review. Follow him on Twitter @ghlionn





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Banque de France tests digital currency-based securities settlement

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The central bank of France — Banque de France — is continuing its work on the development of a European central bank digital currency (CBDC).

On Monday the bank officially announced the successful completion of a CBDC experiment with major Switzerland-based cryptocurrency bank SEBA.

Conducted in collaboration with SEBA, Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, and Luxembourg central securities depository LuxCSD, the experiment used a CBDC to simulate the settlement and delivery of listed securities on TARGET2-Securities (T25), a European securities settlement engine. 

SEBA purchased securities from Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, with post-trade settlement managed by LuxCSD. 

Related: Digital euro offers better privacy protections than private stablecoins: ECB official

Nathalie Aufauvre, general director of financial stability and operations at Banque de France, said that the latest CBDC test demonstrated the possibilities for conventional finance systems and distributed systems to interact. “It also paves the way for other alliances in order to benefit from the opportunities offered by financial assets in a blockchain environment,” Aufauvre said.

The bank noted that the new CBDC test is part of an experimental CBDC program launched in March 2020, that aims to test CBDC integration for settlements. The program’s other experiments will continue until mid-2021 as Banque de France, in addition to other central banks in Europe, tests the viability of CBDCs.